Currently Sweden is using about 1% of GDP for defense purposes, about 42bn SEK, which according to the Supreme commander of the Swedish forces is enough to defend a small portion of Sweden for about a week.
A country that in the 1980´s had 8 million inhabitants and could, back then, put up over a million soldiers is today a country with 10 million inhabitants able to put forward 25 000 men – at best. Sweden used to be, and in some areas still is, one of the greatest weapon and defense manufacturers in the world. Some years, per capita, Sweden produces and sells more military equipment than any other nation on earth.
But today, the military that once was the scourge of Europe and feared for its tactics and well drilled soldiers, the army that beat back almost every nation in Europe, is today a small little shadow of itself.
Not that I am advocating that we get an aggressive foreign policy again and let our kings pillage and murder throughout Europe, no, not at all. All I am saying is that Sweden today is utterly defenseless and at mercy to anyone wanting to invade. And I am not only talking about Russia or NATO here, even Norway or Finland could probably beat us today.
To be honest getting invaded by Norway or Russia would be a blessing. Norway because of their oil fund and being very close in culture and language, we would hardly notice if they took us over. Russia has 14% in flat tax and is a huge country waiting to be explored without needing visa. Russia could use some Swedish organization and better policy structure, while Sweden would benefit from the being a part of a huge market with much lower taxes and stronger military. And in both cases we would get rid of the EU! Jehooo!
However, the threat of invasion is not the only reason for having a strong military.
A strong defense also gives a sense of security to the country and its inhabitants. A strong defense gives you a bigger and stronger voice in the world, especially in your near area. A strong defense means that you can protect not only the borders and airspace at home, but that you can also, if needed, strike at enemies far away. A strong defense now gives us more options entering an unsecure future. And, perhaps most importantly, a strong defense of the nation and the people is the core assignment of government; it is THE most fundamental task of any government.
From the government perspective there is also an opportunity to hide unemployment here. If the Swedish government hired 70 000 men to make up a decent military force it means 70 000 less unemployed. And in this case they are not hired to do pointless tasks of the bureaucracy of administer some costly and totally useless government branch, no, in this case they actually preform a valuable service to their country. Albeit and hopefully one that never need to be put fully into practice, but important nevertheless.
Also there are other opportunities here, like selling to other countries as already mentioned. Americans need lots of assault rifles at the moment, why not sell to them by the tens of thousands? To only mention one area to exploit.
However the main reason I see as to why we need to prop up and enhance and seriously strengthen our military capacity is that the Greatest Depression will, just as during the much less dangerous depression of the 1930´s, lead to upheaval, totalitarian regimes and civil wars. Those things in turn can quickly turn outwards towards neighbors, other religions or for obscure reasons such as gaining lebensraum, getting hands on important raw materials or why not just for riches and the glory of the Empire…
IF I am correct in assuming that the coming years will be disastrous and lead to very bloody riots and huge mass demonstration easily turned into full out civil wars, and IF I am correct in assuming that both the economic mess and a rise of nationalism will lead to very scary regimes emerging, then I am also correct in assuming we need a strong defense.
We cannot wait. The defense budget needs to be doubled, at least. Preferably tripled.
The government could also sell government entities for 300-400bn SEK and use that money to pay off debt, have the largest infrastructure investment in Swedish history and improve the defenses of the nation. It would be a win-win. We would get rid of several costly government projects while increase the quality and quantity of the nation’s infrastructure – something that is deeply needed – and increase the security and protection of the people and the country, all while lowering unemployment and giving us an additional pillow to bounce on during this lengthy depression.
Please do it, and do it now before it is too late.